Teens Rule at STEM Camp


Not only is the ATAM Summer Camp filled with excited children, but a slew of innovative game changers. And they’re actually making games, so it’s appropriate.

Carter LaSalle, a sixth-grader at Seven Arrows Elementary School, is using EV3 software to build a Lego-sorting machine as part of an ethical leadership project. His goal is to give the Lego to kids less fortunate than him, perhaps in Africa.

LaSalle also plans to build a “space exploration game,” a website to showcase his portfolio and an iPad app that incorporates many apps in one. It’s not surprising that his school friends call him “the tech genius.”

Sam Spivak.

Then there’s Samantha “Sam” Spivak from Palisades Charter High School, who has built a whimsical computer game that includes a floating soccer field, coliseum and a very big dog.

“It’s fun to put a lot of work into something and see the finished project,” Spivak told the Palisadian-Post. Spivak works at the camp as a junior counselor and loves it.

Next is Ryan Torok, a student at Brentwood School who informed the Post, in the most gentle and non-showy way, that he uses “the same computer software that Disney animators use.” (That’s Maya, in case you were wondering.)

Although Torok was hesitant to share his project, he did show the Post a frog on a unicycle that he made with a 3D printer. The frog’s name is “That Boy.”

Ryan Torok.

He shared that his favorite part of the ATAM camp is the game nights.
“I love ‘Phantom Forces’,” he said. He’s also an avid Playstation 3 player.

Corpus Christi School student Kai Campos was hanging out at the camp during my visit, but he hasn’t committed to a program yet. He likes the video game “Plants vs. Zombies,” though he prefers outdoor activities like basketball, volleyball and baseball.

And then Campos told the Post about a special project that his family is doing together. Every four to five months, they donate clothing, food, Ring security doorbells and other items to the Corpus Christi Church to help people in need.

Kai Campos.

“There are so many people who don’t have basic resources, so we do what we can to help those families with essential things,” he said. How thoughtful.

For more information on programs offered at the Academy of Technology, Art and Music, visit atampalisades.com.